After laying low for three weeks in the wake of the on-track incident that took the life of Kevin Ward, Tony Stewart will return to the NASCAR scene this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Friday, Stewart faced the media for his first pubic remarks since the death of Ward and said that he will be affected for the rest of his life by what happened on that dirt track in upstate New York (via New York Daily News):
“This has been one of the toughest tragedies I’ve ever had to deal with, both professionally and personally,” Stewart said. “This is something that will definitely affect my life forever. This is a sadness and a pain that I hope no one has to experience in their life. That being said, I know that the pain and the mourning that Kevin Ward’s family is feeling is something that I can’t possibly imagine.”
“I want (Ward Jr’s family members) to know everyday I’m thinking about them and praying for them,” said Stewart, who has sent flowers and a card to Ward Jr.’s family. “Everyone’s saddened with this tragedy.”
Stewart said he would not answer further questions about Ward’s death. The Ontario County Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate the incident.
Since Ward’s death, NASCAR has enacted new rules to prevent drivers from leaving their vehicles during the race. Stewart struck and killed Ward after Ward left his car to confront Stewart on the track. Video shows other drivers safely passing Ward before Stewart hit him.